Protecting a Magi’s sanctum

a wizard's labA wizards lab is an iconic part of many rpg’s game lore – a lab might be a deep underground sanctum, a lofty tower veiled in lightning, or even a humble forest hut; regardless the laboratory is needed for a spell caster to research and invent in almost all settings. It makes sense to me that a wizard would protect that area with hefty locks and powerful magic.

Here are some thoughts for an enchanted item for laboratory protection for use in Ars Magica, and perhaps some other games. I’m loathe to create many mechanical breakdowns for a few rpg systems, as the actual creation rules vary so greatly. If the mechanics don’t fit an rpg then junk them, and keep the descriptions.

The Tile of Archavious – This circular ceiling panel is 1 pace diameter and an inch thick. The tile is designed to be bolted to the roof of the area to be protected, and is molded with a medusa head at its center, with the snakes surrounding the head is a sun burst style. It is constructed from a core of magnetized iron, and plated in silver. The magnet will weakly attract metals with a pace or so. The tile has been enchanted with two effects, which work in unison to provide a paralysing effect on intruders into Archavious’s laboratory.

The item’s triggering mechanism is a constant effect which detects intruders, and the immobilization effect will stop any large man sized human or animal (size +1) who enters the area unless the spell effect is resisted due to resistance. The intent of the effect is to freezes any targets in place, holding them until the magi’s return.

Note: The explanations below contain shorthand for creating magical devices, which might be baffling to read and potentially have the odd error. The spirit of the effects is really is what is important.

The tiles construction grants it a material and size considerations: base metal 4 x shield sized 4 = 16 (maximum levels allowed: 80). The total levels imbued in the device is 64 (Detection affect level 32, and Halt affect 34). Device form and effect: Magnet grants Rego Corpus +4 to the creator, or Silver grants Intellego +2 (Mysteries Revised Ed, p33).

It contains the following spell effects:

Seek the Unwanted Visitor

Intellego Corpus (Animal) 25, R: Touch, D: Sun, T: Room

This effect detects any humans or animals within the room, and provides them as targets for the other enchanted effects within the device.

(Spell Base 4, +1 Touch, +2 Sun, +2 Room)

Two uses per day, with an environmental trigger for sunrise and sunset; which creates a truly constant effect requiring no intervention (see ArM p99). The enchantment will not affect Archavious, or any of his current apprentices which are declared by name. The effect has a penetration level of zero.

(Device mod total +7: +1 Two uses per day, trigger +3, specific targets +3 )

Final invested device effect level: 32 (as Spell final level 25 + Device mod 7)

Halt the Curious Manservant

Rego Corpus (Animal) 25, R: Voice, D: Concentration, T: Individual

This effect holds the targeted creature motionless. At sunrise and sunset the effect will lapse momentarily, and the creature will be targeted again if they are still present the next combat round.

The intent is to hold the visitor until the Magus returns so that they can be questioned and dealt with.

(Spell Base 5, +2 R to Voice, +1 D to Concentration, +1 due to extra Form)

The device may be used 12 times per day, and will target one individual per round while valid targets are detected by the monitoring spell above. The device maintains concentration on the ReCo effect. The effect has a penetration level of zero.

(Device mods total +9: maintains concentration +5, 12 uses per day +4)

Final invested effect level: 34 (as Spell final level 25 + device mod 9)

As an explanation of the effect breakdown, the item uses two effects that combine with each other to mimic some basic “intelligence”. The first effect is a sample of a typical monitoring spell, which is then modified y the item rules to form an item enchantment. Then that effect triggers the second spell, which freezes the target in place.

The description above might look complex because I have split the spell from the item effects so that the detail is clear. Most enchanted device descriptions use a shorter version of this information.

The Ars Magica paradigm for magic does not grant spells any real intelligence, meaning that complex effects, monitoring effects, or effects that need intelligence are either a set of nested effects (much like simplistic procedural pseduo-code) or require the caster to control the basic actions.

There are several modifications to the effect which will make it effective against a wider range of targets. For example:

  • The two enchantments could be modified to penetrate magic resistance (think of this as a harder saving throw vs magic for non-Ars Magica purposes), so that spell casters and magical creatures might also be affected. This would add anywhere from +10 to +25 to the final spell level of the enchantment.
  • The effect could be simplified to only affect humans by removing the Animal requisite, which drops the base spell effect level by 5 spell levels.
  • The creator could designate tokens during the creation so that guests were unaffected if they held the tokens. This would not change the level, but better suits an area where you’d expect guests more often.

As alternatives to the paralyzing effect above, here are some other rough guides for offensive spell effects that could be added to the tile, or replace the effect depending on the desire of the creator.

Hail of Vicious Shards – an effect that conjures and propels a razor sharp shard of rocks at anyone who enters for +15 damage.

Effect level total 19 (Spell level 15 with +4 device mod). Spell as per an improved version of The Crystal Dart – Inflict +15 damage, MuTe(Re)10, +1 for damage increase, with an item modifier to be used x12 times per day +4.

Invoke the Wrath of Zeus – a chain lightning effect which targets all non-authorized people, inflicting +30 damage.

Effect level 49 (Spell level 45 with +4 device mod). Spell CrAu45; as base 5, +4 unnatural, +2 voice range, +0 momentary, +2 group of 10 targets at once; with an item modifier to be used x12 times per day +4

The Sideward Blunder -Teleports the target 5 paces to the north with each application. The device will continue to cast this until all targets are removed from the room.

Effect level 24 (Spell level 20 + 4 device mod). Spell base ReCo20; as base ReCo10, with +2 voice, and an item modifier use x12 times per day +4.

There is of course defensive effects that might be useful as well, although perhaps not as fear inducing as the threat of direct damage.

The Hidden Door – the image of the door and the surrounding walls is changed so that it appears no doorway is present. A detailed examination will find the door.

Effect level 10 (Spell level 5 + 5 device mod). Spell base CrIm 1, +1 mag for detail, +2 voice, +1 concentration; with effect modifier that the device maintains concentration +5.

The Devilish Doorway – A variant of The Sideward Blunder designed to teleport the target one level down in the tower, so they mistakenly enter a different room; same effect just a slightly more devious destination. The doorway could be enchanted to teleport each target to anywhere close, and perhaps even drop them a very long way away if an Arcane Connection was used, and the magnitude was increased.

A truly evil version may move the target to a fireplace, several hundred feet in the air, or even to fathoms beneath the waves (insert evil laughter here).

Then of course there is always non lethal options, which rely on theatrical effects that  dissuade visitors.

Aura of Baleful Dread – the lab is surrounded in an aura that makes visitors uncomfortable, fearful and nervous.

Effect level 14 (Spell level 10 + 4 device mod). Spell as per Panic of the Trembling Heart CeMe15 (ArM p148); altered with +1 voice, -2 Momentary, and an item modifier use x12 times per day +4.

Use with specific locales in mind, caution, or total disregard for other creatures.

Screams of the Forlorn – periodically occurring moans, screams, and other disturbing sounds that emanate from the Magi’s lab. Practically this is a somewhat ineffective effect for defense, as it stops nothing.

Effect level 9 (Spell level 4 + 5 device mod). Spell base effect 1, +1 for Concentration, +2 for Voice ; and an item modifier use as constant effect +5.

The spell effect could me modified to produce the sounds on an inhabited chamber (footsteps, grumbling, etc) or perhaps also include creating light on and off with +1 magnitudes to add to the flavour of the deception.



4 thoughts on “Protecting a Magi’s sanctum

  1. Pingback: Magi Lab Protections using Illusions | The Iron-Bound Tome

  2. With respect to the initial two effects, there are a few things I don’t understand?
    1) Why R: Voice? The tile is in the Room, right, so R: Touch should do just as well. Besides, R: Voice still requires a sound as carried, wether that sound is made by the device or the user. There is none here? Am I missing something, or is R: Voice just a really wierd choice for a trap?
    2) Target: Room makes sense, except a standard lab is 500+ sq. feet, and a basis Room (for Corpus) is only 400 sq. feet as I recall, so you might want to squeese a modifier in there for size.
    2.1) But you’re still getting T: Room for free, why? Isn’t T: Room normally +2 magnitudes? Am I missing something?
    3) How does the device remember the new apprentices? Wouldn’t you have to beiuld a new device each time you got a new apprentice?

  3. You’re right on all counts.
    1) Stuffed that effect. I can’t recall why I tried to use Voice when Touch would work, it seems odd to me that the Animal requisite needs an extra mag as it is not adding a different sub-effect, and T:Room should be paid for. It’s broken.
    2) I don’t recall the maximums for Room so I’ll have to check that.
    3) Yes, it’s intended that only the current declared people are immune. Re-crafting every 15 years isn’t too expensive and most Masters don’t train them back to back.

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